Towards the end of chapter 5 Mark says that after the episode with the guy who was roaming around the tombs (see the entry from 2 weeks ago HERE), Jesus and His disciples got back into the boat and headed back to the other side of the Lake.
Remember - when Jesus met up with the guy who was possessed by a Legion of demons in the graveyard, He was on the non-Jewish / Gentile side of the lake. And so now Mark says He gets BACK in the boat and crosses BACK to the other side, meaning that He’s now back in Jewish territory.
I pause here to tell you this because all throughout Mark’s Gospel we see Jesus and His disciples ...
Crossing over to the Jewish side of the Lake.
Then going back to the Gentile side.
Then back to the Jewish side.
And back to the Gentile side.
... It’s almost as if Mark wants us to know that Jesus went to EVERYONE. He didn’t just wait for everyone to come to Him, He didn’t set Himself up in the Temple with the disciples outside holding a sign to go inside and experience the Messiah.
Instead, Jesus took it upon Himself to go to everyone, to meet with everyone, to be in the presence of everyone no matter who they were - Jewish, Gentile, clean, unclean, observant of the Torah, clueless of the Torah, tax collectors, prostitutes, children, adults, rich, poor, etc.
I’d argue, He’s still doing the same thing today. He doesn’t sit in our churches, up at the altar, waiting for people to respond to an altar call on Sunday’s so that He can enter their hearts.
To be honest, this couldn’t be further from what the stories of Jesus teach us!
Rather, He’s out in the world, meeting people where they are ...
On their way to work.
As they storm out of the house after a fight with their spouse.
At the bar.
In the strip club.
In that motel room.
At the grocery story.
... Meeting people (all types of people) where they are, on their turf.
Anyways, so Jesus goes back to the Jewish side of the lake and is immediately met by a guy named Jairus, who was a member of the synagogue rulers. Mark tells us that Jairus’ 12-year old daughter had become very ill and was on the verge of death and so he begged Jesus to come and make her well.
Jesus, naturally, agreed and went with him and as was the case with most places He went, word got around that He was in town and the crowd began to grow and grow and grow and press in on Him.
In that crowd was a woman who Mark says had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, a condition that “caused her to suffer at the hands of many doctors”. When she caught sight of Jesus she thought to herself, “if I could only touch His clothes, I know I will be healed.” And so she made her way through the crowd ...
... Until she got close enough and then reached out and touched His cloak, which immediately made her well.
Jesus, Mark says, felt power leaving Him and yelled out, “who touched me?” The disciples looked at Him like He was insane because literally hundreds of people were gathered around them and they were all reaching, and grabbing, and trying to get a look at the miracle working rabbi.
The woman realized what had happened, raised her hand, and said that it was her to which Jesus responded, “Woman, your faith has made you well.”
Meanwhile Jairus’ daughter got worse and word came to Jesus and her dad that she had died. Mark says that Jesus “ignored what they said”, looked at Jairus, and said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
And how could he not believe, right? He literally just saw a woman get healed by simply touching Jesus’ cloak. Surely that had to do something to his faith.
They got to the house and everybody was mourning the young girls death and so Jesus told them not to cry because she was only sleeping. Mark says that “they laughed at Him”, which apparently ticked Him off because He then “put them all out of the room”, went in with Jairus and his wife and His disciples, and woke the little girl up.
End of story.
I love what Mark is doing here. He intertwines the stories of 2 very different people from 2 very different walks of life from 2 very different places in society and shows us how Jesus steps into the story of each one and brings healing, renewal, and restoration.
Jairus was a synagogue ruler and so he and his family would have been considered more upper class.
The woman who was bleeding, though, had a few strikes against her - not only was she a woman (and women, remember, were seen as second-class citizens in Bible times), but she was also bleeding for 12 years (which made her unclean in the eyes of the Temple), AND she had spend countless dollars on doctors, none of which could make her well. In fact, in his commentary on Mark, Binding the Strong Man, Ched Myers points out that ...
“The squandering of money upon ineddicacious medical care was a perennial problem for the poor in Bible times. Mark’s comment about her ‘suffering under the care of many doctors’ is a comment that both Matthew and Luke leave out of the story and comes across as sharp and even cynical for she spent all she had and profited nothing.”
2 very different people, for sure.
One thing they do have in common, though, Mark says, is the number 12 - the girl is 12 years old and the woman had been bleeding for 12 years. This is an important piece of information that Mark’s Jewish Christian readers would have picked upon immediately because the number 12 (for the Jews) represented the 12 tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people.
And so by telling us that Jesus brought healing and restoration to ...
From 2 very different backgrounds.
From 2 very different walks of life.
Who were in the middle of 2 very different circumstances.
And who were both represented by the number 12.
... Mark wants us to know that God’s chosen people, the people that God goes to, the people who God reaches out to, the people who are welcomed into God’s presence and Kingdom aren’t found in one place or the other, but in all places, from all walks of life, from various backgrounds, from all different kinds of circumstances.
Jesus’ mission to go lay hands on the daughter of a Synagogue Ruler was bluntly interrupted by the touch of a poor and unclean woman. You could say that a woman from the bottom of the social scale intruded on Jesus’ mission to help someone at the top of the social scale and each story ends the same - with both the daughter and the woman being healed AND the woman being called (by Jesus), “daughter”.
In other words, in Jesus’ eyes ...
Both are the same.
Both are welcome.
Both are loved.
Both are worthy of restoration.
Both are God’s children.
... Regardless of their social status, age, gender, background, condition, etc.
I think that with this story and with all of these details, the point that Mark was making to his original readers is probably the same point he’d make to us today: it’s time that we do away with the talk of who is in and who is out, it’s time that we stop making sweeping declarations about who is welcome and who is not welcome, who is clean and who is unclean ... and it’s time we start embracing a Kingdom that brings with it a NEW social order, a NEW way of understanding people, a NEW way of talking about God’s chosen people.
Earlier in chapter 5 Jesus went to the non-Jewish side of the lake and brought healing and restoration to a troubled man and then in this part of chapter 5 He went back to the Jewish side of the lake and brought healing and restoration to 2 very different Jewish women.
NO ONE was exempt.
NO ONE was left out.
NO ONE was beyond or too far gone for His touch.
NO ONE was pushed away.
NO ONE was left behind.
... No one.
He got into His boat and went to each person on both sides of the lake because each person mattered and each person was in need and worthy of His touch.
Let’s let that be a principle that we live by today.